New Korean-related novels in English

Digging to America and Kept

For those of you who still have your copy of the FT weekend magazine from 27/28 May hanging about (or who are spendthrift enough to subscribe to ft.com), there’s details of two new novels in English with a Korean flavour — one just published, and one coming up later this year. Firstly, the one reviewed in the magazine is Digging to America by Anne Tyler: “Two Korean babies, adopted by families in the US, raise questions of race and fitting in” is the FT’s summary, and the review itself fills at least twelve column inches. The sole reviewer at amazon.co.uk has given it 5 stars, but the FT is lukewarm. I’ll put it on my wishlist for when it comes out in paperback and report back once I’ve read it. [Now done. Review is here]

Secondly, there’s an upcoming book by Y Euny Hong, a former FT columnist based in the US. Hong is a descendent of distinguished blue-blooded Korean ancestors (whether she’s related to Lady Hyegyong I’d like to determine1) and her novel Kept: a comedy of sex and manners (maybe also called My Blue Blood) is a semi-autobiographical account of how someone with a distinguished background struggles in a world where ancestral lineage counts for nothing. Hong writes an interesting 3-page article in the FT magazine which basically is a trail for her book. Again, once it comes out I’ll report on it here. [Now done. Review is here.]

I’ve covered briefly in my books section all novels of which I am aware which are written in English but with a Korean angle. Please tell me if you are aware of / can recommend any others.

  1. Update (22 September 2006): according to Margaret Drabble, with whom Hong has been corresponding, the answer is that Hong claims she is related – so said Drabble when I asked her this at the BAKS conference []

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